Most Canadians cool to temporary foreign workers, poll says

The majority of Canadians have problems with temporary foreign workers taking jobs that Canadians could do, according to a poll on the country's immigration system.

Skilled trades help wanted

10 years ago
Duration 7:09
Immigration Minister Jason Kenney talks about the government's plan to speed up the immigration process for people with skills that are in demand

The majority of Canadians have problems with temporary foreign workers taking jobs that Canadians could do, according to a poll on the country's immigration system.

Sixty-eight per cent of respondents in the CBC/Nanos survey said they "oppose" or "somewhat oppose" allowing temporary foreign workers into the country if there are Canadians looking for work who are qualified for the same jobs. Six per cent were unsure.

The survey results were released on Monday, hours after Immigration Minister Jason Kenney unveiled details of a new program intended to speed the arrival to Canada of foreign tradespeople whose skills are in demand.

Kenney said the Skilled Trades Stream will accept up to 3,000 foreign workers next year, and touted the program as a way to address labour shortages, particularly in remote regions of the country.

The federal government is working with provinces, territories and labour groups to draw up a list of occupations that will be eligible. It's expected to include electricians, welders, heavy equipment mechanics and pipefitters.

Michael Atkinson, president of the Canadian Construction Association, argued the new program will help reduce the country's reliance on temporary labour.

"It was easier under the points system to get in if you had a post-doctorate degree in ancient Greek pottery as opposed to somebody who has 20 years' experience as a welder or an electrician," he said.

The CBC/Nanos survey results also suggest the bulk of Canadians believe that refugee claimants should have a right to appeal if their application is denied — regardless of where they came from.

Forty-nine percent of respondents said they "support" or "somewhat support" the idea of a right to appeal for refugee claimants who come from countries Canada deems safe, compared to 37 per cent who were against that proposition. Thirteen per cent were unsure.

Refugee system overhaul

Under new rules that go into effect Dec. 15 as part of an overhaul of Canada's refugee system, the federal government will create a list of countries from which refugee claims will be scrutinized more closely.

The first designated country of origin list will also be released on Dec. 15 and will include countries which produce large numbers of rejected asylum claims.

Would-be refugees from those countries will have their claims heard within 30 to 45 days and they will lose the ability to appeal a negative decision at the newly created refugee appeal division.

Seventy-one per cent of respondents said they were against providing further entitlements to refugee claimants "for more free benefits" beyond basic health care. Twenty-one per cent were against the idea and seven per cent were unsure.

Fifty-six per cent of respondents said they were at least somewhat satisfied with Ottawa's immigration policy, compared to 44 per cent who were dissatisfied or somewhat dissatisfied with it. Fourteen per cent were unsure.

The CBC/Nanos survey was conducted Dec. 3-4 and included responses from 1,000 Canadians aged 18 or older. There is no margin of error stated for the online survey.

The data was weighted using the latest census results to ensure the final sample represents the Canadian population. Nanos Research believes it to be a true reflection of Canadian opinion at the time of the research.

With files from CBC's Louise Elliott and The Canadian Press